Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Atomic Bronco Prove They Aren’t Just One Trick Pony’s On Third Album ‘Bull In A China Shop’

An artist that splits their time between Austin and London is going to have been exposed to two of the world’s great musical cities. 

Austin, with its Southern Blues roots and London, with punk ideals still ingrained deeply into its artistic culture, will always leave a deep impression on a musician. 

Kyle Nuss, the brainchild behind Atomic Bronco, has clearly been touched by each city as his latest album ‘Bull in a China Shop’ takes us on an odyssey through both their musical proclivities.  

Anthemic, screeching guitars kick the album into life on opener ‘Default Settings’ as the track oozes a leather jacket coolness between power chords and guitar solos whilst ‘Get You off My Mind’ brings the groove with its plodding basslines and harmonics. It’s a very 2013 vibe, reminiscent of Arctic Monkey’s AM’ or Royal Blood’s early output and the sultry sexiness only continues on the heavy ‘Let It Go’ as Nuss croons “The times run out / We’ve gotta break it all down / Strip it all away / Until there’s nothing more”. 

It's just as the album starts to feel predictable, however, that Nuff is able to change things up. ‘Foolish Games’, with its soft blues guitar, appears to be straight out of the American South, whilst the age-old tale of love and lust in poor circumstances adds some emotion to the album as the singer bemoans “I’m risking everything, I’m on my knees” 

After a slight revert to means on the riff-laden ‘In Your Shoes’, the release appears to stay on the American side of the pond for the time being. Acoustic, country-style guitars provide a nice tempo change on ‘Lost’ whilst even more tension is allowed to build on the superb ‘Fly Away’, where its plucked guitar and resonating riffs bring some much-needed moodiness to the album. 

The sexy guitar riffs are back on ‘Classical Conditioning’ and ‘Sky’s on Fire’ as the album feels like it is building to a climactic and bombastic finish. Yet, interestingly, this isn’t the direction Atomic Bronco choose to take.  

The penultimate track ‘Nostalgia’ is a heart-wrenching number about the fear of getting older and the futility of fighting against one of life’s great certainties. “Never think about the way we always find ourselves chasing after golden days to be younger in our eyes” proclaims Nuss as the distant guitars and soft drums only add more tension to the emotional masterpiece that perfectly encapsulates the artist's ability to surprise the listener.   

Album closer ‘Along With Me’ sees an almost complete reversal from the releases bombastic and sultry opening salvo, where acoustic country guitars in the style of Phoebe Bridgers have replaced power chords and sleazy solos. It’s a vibe that fits Atomic Bronco well, as Nuss' soft vocal delivery adds a pain and weight to his words. “Reach into my chest and you can take what’s yours” he strains, yet with an album as varied, exciting and most importantly emotional as ‘Bull in a China Shop’, it’s clear that Nuss has offered us enough. 

James Ogden 

Image: ‘Bull in a China Shop’ Official Album Cover 

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